Recently, I had the opportunity to do a pretty amazing interview with Chris Clemence (RapScallions, Screaming At Demons)!
When explaining your music to someone how hasn’t heard it, how do you describe your music?
My music tends to have a big, anthemic, stadium sound. I love writing sing along anthems that really unite and fire up a crowd. Some of my biggest influences are Queen, Muse, Green Day, and lots of old school punk rock lately. Love the Ramones.
What originally got you into music ? If there is a story, please share!
I didn’t really have a musical family. My grandpa played guitar and I was always intrigued when he would bust it out as a kid. I remember going up into his attic to find his old strat and would love strumming away on it. I first started playing bass when I was 14. I had gotten a misaddressed Musicians Friend catalog that was supposed to go to my neighbor down the street. My birthday was coming up and I really wanted a paintball gun so I could go play with my friends, but my parents were against it. I remember thumbing through the catalog and seeing this really cool black Ibanez bass. I didn’t really even know too much about bass but I knew that I really wanted to try and play it. I asked my parents to get me it for my birthday and they were super supportive (although I’m sure they thought I’d probably never play it). After getting the bass I just became obsessed and started playing as much as I could, eventually starting my first rock band and then going on to learn upright bass. I give a lot of credit to my teachers Marilyn Van Scoyoc, Troy Grindle, and Johnny Blood for teaching me when I was first starting out. Them and all the bands I was listening to at the time really molding my playing style.
Do you happen to recall the first time you performed, and can you please tell us about it ?
I think my first show ever was at my High School for this Coffee House thing they did on Friday nights in the cafeteria. I think my Dad has a video of it somewhere. I was super nervous and had huge pit stains. So rock n roll. After my 3rd or 4th show I started getting more comfortable on stage and now it’s where I feel best.
Do you have a song that is your favorite to perform? And if so, why?
I’ve always loved playing my hit “Can You Feel It”. On tour in China last year I got to perform for over 100,000 at the Chang Jiang Festival and it was wild to have that many people singing along all the words with us. I really love performing anthems that a whole crowd can get behind. I can’t wait to release my video for “Let’s Go” and get on the road again! I think everyone is gonna really dig my new stuff.
Chris Clemence on stage in China. Photo courtesy of Chris Clemence
What does your writing process look like ? Any funny stories from your last recording session?
It really varies depending on the situation. Sometimes I’ll come up with a riff on my bass, or sometimes I’ll write all the lyrics first. The last recording session I had was at my sponsor Converse’s Rubber Tracks Studio in Brooklyn. It was a session for my new single “Let’s Go”. Not that it was so much funny, but we got to be the last session at the studio before it closed down for good so that was kind of a historical moment. Recording an anthem for NY sports teams on the last day of Converse’s studio right in the heart of NYC.
Do you try and stay true to your genre? If so, why? If not, how does mixing it up look like ?
I think I just try to write good music. I don’t really think, “oh I have to sound this way” or pigeon hole myself. I always try to evolve and top myself.
Who would your dream collaboration be with ?
I’ve been very lucky to collaborate with some rock greats recently. I just worked with Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers on 2 of my songs, and most recently Harley Flanagan of Cro Mags on my latest single “Let’s Go”. “Let’s Go” is a sports anthem for the NY teams and is already airing in their stadiums and arenas. Working with both these guys was a trip. Just being in the studio with two legends you idolized growing up, and then having them create music with you is an indescribable feeling. I’d really love to do a song with Tom Morello. I’ve always admired his creative approach to the guitar and how he always takes it to a new level. We’ll see what happens!
What is your favorite food to eat while on tour ?
Anything spicy. The hotter the better. Tongue torture all day.
What is something that your fans would be surprised to learn about you?
A lot of fans don’t realize I’m also an artist. I specialize in large neo-traditional Japanese art, as well as aquatic themed pieces. I sell my art direct on http://www.chrisclemence.com and am always posting new pieces.
Chris Clemence with his art “Octo-Invasion”. Photo by Tessa Knox
What does 2017 look like for you? What can fans expect to see/hear from you?
2017 is shaping up to be a busy year. I have a bunch of new music I’ve been creating and I can’t wait to release it! Also I’m excited for my next few special guest collaborations, so stay tuned!